Stuttgart - A hat-trick from VfB Stuttgart's Vedad Ibisevic condemned FC Schalke 04 to their fourth away defeat on the trot on Saturday.
The Bosnian striker was at his ruthless best, opening the scoring and netting either side of the break to cancel out Ciprian Marica's equaliser, in a game that saw both sides reduced to ten men.
Only 42 hours had passed between Stuttgart's UEFA Europa League defeat to Molde and kick-off at the Mercedes-Benz Arena, but you would never have guessed it. Just two minutes into the contest, Ibrahima Traore led a three-on-two counter which was expertly rounded off from close range by Ibisevic for his eighth goal of the campaign.
Both sides appeared to have made the decision that attack would be the best form of defence and, with the game wide open, Marica got a boot to Jermaine Jones' left-wing cross to level against his old club. Stuttgart were rocking and had goalkeeper Sven Ulreich to thank for keeping out Klaas-Jan Huntelaar's near-post flick in the 25th minute.
Schalke's Christian Fuchs was enjoying himself down the left-hand side, but he was sporting an altogether different expression moments later when referee Felix Zwayer adjudged the Austrian international to have fouled Christian Gentner inside the box. Full of confidence, Ibisevic duly delivered from the spot, tucking the ball out of ex-Stuttgart stopper Timo Hildebrand's reach for 2-1.
He was celebrating again shortly after the hour-mark, completing his hat-trick after Hildebrand could only parry Raphael Holzhauser's fierce drive back into the danger zone. Not even a straight red card to Stuttgart's Gotoku Sakai could force a response from Huub Stevens' strugglers, who themselves had Jones sent off with 15 minutes left on the clock.
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